As organizations look at redesigning their office space to support today’s hybrid work model, they should consider audio/visual requirements from the outset. The configuration of rooms and the choice of materials have a big impact on the A/V user experience.
All too often, Rahi’s A/V team is brought in after interior design decisions have already been made. Stained concrete floors, glass walls and open ceilings look beautiful, but they are not conducive to a high-quality video conference. We can certainly retrofit the space to ensure the best video and sound, but that adds cost and alters the effect the interior designer was trying to achieve.
Getting the Framework Right
Ideally, the A/V design team would be brought into early meetings with the architect and interior designer. A/V plays a central role in the hybrid workplace, and we can help the customer think through how they might use the space from an A/V perspective.
How many conference rooms do you need? What size? Huddle rooms are in vogue, but will people use them? Do executives and managers need A/V in their private offices? An experienced A/V designer can help guide the customer through these kinds of questions.
Rahi also has tools that can help customers analyze the use of their existing space in order to make data-driven decisions. For example, we can install Bluetooth beacons and cameras that count people in a way that doesn’t invade privacy but provides statistics on how conference rooms are used.
Choosing the Right Materials
Once the layout of the space is determined, the A/V designer can assist with the selection of materials. For example, glass makes a space feel open and allows in natural light, but it can also create glare during a videoconference. Does the customer want to add window coverings or reconsider how glass might be used in the space?
Acoustics require the most attention in the design process. People tend to focus on the video component of video conferencing, but you can turn off video and still have a productive meeting. Audio is essential and can be difficult to get right. Reflective surfaces such as glass, whiteboards and even sheetrock cause an echo effect that makes it difficult for people to hear. Acoustic panels can be worked into the design, or the customer might decide to choose different materials from the outset.
Positioning the A/V Equipment
Many customers prefer a streamlined look, with microphones, speakers and other gear hidden from view. An experienced A/V designer can help the customer achieve that effect while ensuring a high-quality video conference. For example, a large wall-mounted microphone might not be the best choice if some people will be seated far away from it.
Again, these decisions are best made early in the design process so that the architect can plan for electrical and cabling. The interior designer will need to know where A/V equipment will be mounted in order to create the desired aesthetics.
A/V has become a central component of the hybrid workplace as many employees continue to work remotely at least part of the time. As such, A/V should be a core consideration in office redesign projects.
Rahi’s team has extensive experience in the design, implementation, maintenance and support of enterprise A/V solutions. Let us help you make smart office design decisions that maximize the value of your A/V investments and optimize the user experience.
About Steven Gilmore
Steven has been working in the A/V field for almost 20 years, coming up through the industry from installation to solution sales and project management. He has seen the industry from all sides and in a variety of roles. He is based in Rahi’s Atlanta office and involved in expanding the company’s territory in the Southeast.